Monday, April 30, 2018

Did I say it all wrong?!

A simple request can fall on deaf ears, or maybe the request was a 'yesteryear' one; one that no longer applies. Maybe technology has moved to the point where old-fashioned, proven, and essential services don't work anymore.

I digress: I wanted to post a letter ... you know ... that paper-eclosed item that needs to go via a physical process because the recipient cannot receive an electronic format. I prepared the necessary response to the request for the said item and popped it in the envelope, one for which I had to search high and low, in my home, given my creative storing and sorting mechanisms. Actually, it was not in my home. I had stored the envelopes safely away in the car ... in the glove-box to be exact. Damned if I know why I should have put them there, and even more amazing ... I found them!

I drove to the place where I used to buy stamps ... my local dairy, or as the USA calls them .. the Drug Store. I always wondered at that description, just as they must be slightly perplexed at our Kiwi description of the local store or corner shop.

I arrived at the 'dairy' and approached the counter. I asked the guy for some stamps. He looked at me oddly. I thought ... shit ... have I left food on my face or ... is there a boogie hanging from my nose?
I checked ... nope.

I said ...  'You know ... a stamp for an envelope.'
He looked at me like I was asking the impossible. I swear I had bought some from him in the past. Then I remembered, that he had sold me envelopes with the stamp already on it. I realized that time is rather fluid and what was yesterday is certainly NOT today. I smiled and left the shop.

Oh well, I accepted that I would have to drive into the vast metropolis that is Thames and go to the POSTSHOP. As is often the case, I parked outside and went in. My favourite banker/Postshop person was behind the counter. She kk new all about stamps, warning me about the cost. It seems that fewer people are using the old form of 'Snail Mail, hence the price rise. I happily paid and the mail is now on the way.

I wonder if there will come a time when even that format will go the way of dinosaurs. I hope not!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I thought the Feijoa season was crap .. until...

This year has not been kind to my fruit crops. Firstly the Apricots and cherries came to nothing. Sure, they blossomed, but the rain came and knocked the delicate flowers off, meaning that the season was a wipe-off. My neighbour was a little luckier and eating the occasional juicy apricot from his tree was nought but a promise of undelivered bounty. My plums were only marginally better, after a beautiful crop last year. Oh well, at least I had the apples and grapes, along with new crops of citrus that are coming on now.

I was looking forward to the Feijoa season, but the terrible storm of January 5th put a hold to that. Then there was the possibility of the Guava Moth (The Guavas, the sub-tropical large yellow ones and the smaller purple variety, are being very kind, and I don't even mind sharing them with the Sunderland Bomber ... oops, I meant the Kereru, NZ's huge native pigeon, that one can hear from a great distance as they 'whoop whoop' on their bombing raids, sometimes leaving the trees in an almost drunken manner. Of course, The Feijoas are under the threat from different more sinister attack ... from the Guava Moth. Hort/research have a trap hanging in my Feijoa trees, and last year they found a solitary beastie. DO NOT complain when you come through  NZ Customs
if you are checked. These blighters possibly came in because a fool did not comply with NZ's strict rules about bringing in fruit. Our economy depends on such measures ... to keep us free of unwanted pests.

I was not expecting my Feijoas to give me much more than a paltry few fruits. I noticed a few quite large ones when I was mowing my lawn, and today I went out to pick some off the ground. One does not pick them from the tree. Most Kiwis, where the fruit grows, know that the best Feijoas are the ones that fall to the ground.

Last night nature delivered something unexpected. Wind and rain visited Thames. When I searched under the trees this afternoon, the ground was festooned with large, beautifully ripe feijoas, a few hundred of them. I slipped into harvest mode, raking them gently from under the trees. Then we started out production-line. My mate cut them in half and I scooped out the scented-ice-cream-like pulp. The skins went into one container and the pulp in another, from whence we stuck it into plastic bags and into the freezer for later use.  The skins were then packed into jars, after rinsing, topped with water and a small amount of sugar. You guessed it. The skins are being fermented in two stages. In a few days, I will drain the slightly fermented water from the jars, discard the skins and add a little more sugar, poured the mixture back into the clean jars and leave them on the bench, with tight lids for the second ferment.

In a few days, I will put them in the fridge to stop them attaining an elevated alcohol level. I shall leave one bottle to 'brew' a little longer to see if it reaches a noticeable level so that the 'fizz becomes a buzz"!

 Yes ... the afternoon has been a productive one. AS I have been typing this post, I have been enjoying a Kombucha flavoured with Guavas, with the first batch of my feijoa fizz back-blended into it. I can say it is ... mightily flavoursome!

2700 blogs---new direction imminent!

Watch this space. It will soon become a thing of the past. Quite a few years ago, I 'monetized' my blog. It didn't go well. For various reasons, I got banned (FOR LIFE!) by this platform, re the monetizing aspect. It's a bit of a story, one based on my naivete. I appealed, but they refused my explanation. That was five years ago.

Now, thousands of blogs on, I have decided to try another platform. (Wordpress) For a while, I shall 'parallel post' my blogs, once it is set up. If things go well, I shall make the switch.  The links will be obvious.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Walking and talking ... gems!

A SHORT WALK only happens when measured in distance, How long it takes is another matter entirely. When we leave the house, we never know what we will see, hear and tell. I carry my little green bags for 'doggie purposes and of course for my 'collectables.'

    Bits of driftwood, contorted into fantastic shapes by water, time and sand, find their way home, sometimes just a little too big. I would .love to drag the large trunks, that have witnessed many storms and travelled from the distant hills behind the town, tumbling along flooded streams turned to torrents, before finding a temporary resting spot on a beach. I usually settle for their smaller brothers and sisters. Sometimes, I even find their cousins from the past ... shiny pieces of Kauri Gum tossed upon the high-tide mark or buried amongst the detritus lying in banks on the beach.

    We never go far without meeting people. Some are mirroring our morning activity ... just getting out-and-about. Not all walk with the pace of yester-years, utilizing walking-sticks and shuffling gently along the footpaths. They may not walk on the beach, when the sea has delivered or uncovered large rocks, replacing the smooth sand from the day before, then on the following day spreading a different vista in an ever-changing pattern.

    Sometimes the people we meet are familiar. I may remember their names, but often it takes many meetings before I remember. Perdy has a way of introducing herself, and once met, she always knows. A sniff is all it takes; a pat on her head cements the relationship. Next time it's a stretch up, seeking a more intimate connection.
    Conversations flow, with Perdy sitting patiently ... up to a point ... stories are offered and heard. Days gone by are reintroduced, as if they were yesterday, families, friends and events recalled, sad and joyful. Time flows, before moving on, sometimes for minutes, before another memory is painted in words and images. There is a commonality, a union of ideas. The time we take is not important ... on most days we have it in abundance. Perhaps a medical appointment beckons or a visitor is due, but for the most part, there is a rhythm to the day that precludes rushing.

    Sometimes Perdy lets me know that I have reached my allotment of stories for the walk. There will be other walks, more people, another beach ... but now it is time for us to move on. Yes, Perdy wishes us to move down the beach, looking for stones, gems and the flotsam that we have both come to love. There's always plenty of time for 'walking, talking
and gems!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A cure for all 'ills.'

Last night was a difficult one. Yes ... I was visited by my nasty AFIB 'friend.' Who needs friends who make sleep difficult and send your mood to places you'd rather not go?!
    I tried some of the 'strategies,' I had read about on Google: Breathing, visualizing, bearing down,' and drinking a glass of icy water; none of them seemed to make any difference. AFIB was here for a long visit. At least it never got to the point where ambulances or visiting A&E were needed, but it resulted in me needing to sleep in, wasting the day and delaying Perdy's walk. I managed to feed the chooks and the neighbour's ducks, but then it was back to rest. That's the way things go when AFIB visits.
     About 11am, I felt ready to face the world. I called Perdy, stuck her leash on, whilst she jumped about, excited to be finally heading out. "We're only going for about ten minutes, girl," I said. "We can go again this afternoon."
    Ten minutes is never a 'target' on my walks with the girl. Time is a relative quality, to be extended, moulded and adapted to fit one's mood and circumstances. Circumstances feel simpler and the ebb and flow measured in natural opportunity.
    We met people: three individuals and couples. The first was Edward (Names changed for all encounters) I had met Edward on several of my walks. Last time, it was at the far entrance to the retirement village. He was sitting on his walker, watching the traffic. Sometimes he moves to the other end of the village, closer to my home. He loves to say, "You met my twin last week."
    I got in first this time. "Hey ... had a good chat with your twin last time. How is he today?" He laughed. It wasn't long before we were talking about the 'old days.' He told me of the 'war-time rationing,' when sugar, meat and other essentials had to be strictly eked out. He knew that NZ sent a great deal of food the 'Old Country.' I told him that even here, on the farm in Taranaki, my parent farmers had to abide by NZ's rationing ... "so we could feed you lot," I added. We parted, and I'm sure he was making his way to the other gate, to surprise me with his 'twin.' He didn't realize that I was going the other way. Edward is at least 90!
    Perdy pulled me towards the beach. The tide was in, dancing on the sand, trying to breach the defences, but without a storm or a Full-moon, failure was on the cards. Perdy sniffed her way along the beach, unearthing 'stuff' with no name and snapping at the occasional insect. I sat for a while on a log, that if I had the strength and a means to transport, would grace my front yard, adorned with various succulents and other flotsam.
    As we left the sand and started walking along the path, a couple approached us. "Perdy!" the lady called. It was the lady Perdy had rescued when she fell about a year ago, alerting me to the fact that she had disappeared over the sea wall. A beautiful reunion and a long chat followed. We solved a few national and local issues, all in the space of about ten minutes My 'short' walk was stretching further than a frayed rubber band.
    Just before we left the pathway in front of the retirement village, we came upon a guy fishing. he was about my age. Of course, I sauntered over. I was curious to see if he had caught anything. I was thinking of finally having a go, to collect some fat Kahawai to smoke and to feed to my chooks. He too was from Auckland, travelling back a few days a week. He was also the proud daddy of a Jack Russell. We chatted about the recent floods. It seemed he had been badly hit, but the experience did nothing to change his mind about living in our 'nature-challenged' slice of Paradise. We will have a go at fishing together soon.
    I need to acknowledge Perdy's patience. She lets me chat, sitting watching, yes, even listening. We arrived home about an hour and a bit after leaving. I had found a way to alleviate the worst of the AFIB. Yes ... I'm alive and well, and if AFIB wants to visit ... I have my walks and talks ... my TWALKS!'

Friday, April 20, 2018

A snake in the grass.

LIFE is not always a walk in the park. Often the light teases, tricks and distorts from reality. The pathway that seems straight usually has a few subtle bends, leading us in directions not intended. Before we realize, we are off in new directions, beginning in questions, ending in places unintended.
    A slight turn to the left ... or right, may be the difference between experiencing a fulfilling day, and another resulting in bedlam, bad choices and sadness. It is the power of choice that determines the outcome. It is the gift of choice that either takes away or adds to our lives, in ways not expected.

    Our thoughts inform and play with the future. Our decisions and choices are fed by our perception or what we feel, see, hear, smell and fear. Joy is the culmination of ... everything ... that has been ... or could be.

    Take care on that pathway, my friends: The are many shades of truth, whether they be yours or those of someone else.

    Much love:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Stairway to Heaven.

ANOTHER pothole reminded us that small cars should slow down on metal roads. Hell ... I was crawling along and if I slowed down anymore, I'd be going backwards.
    'Where's the sign? ' I said to my mate. 'The APP said the pathway is by the bridge ... oh, there's the carpark.'
    I pulled off the road. 'Car park,' was pushing it. There was barely room for my car and the car that was already there. Perdy, our ebullient Jack Russell was busting to get out of the car. Her whimpering hadn't stopped since we turned down the side-road. I attached her lead and she jumped out, trying to haul me towards the bush. She wanted off, but that was a no-go. Dogs, particularly Jack Russells are not welcome in the bush ... for good reason. 'There be critters ... endangered ones,  them there hills, girl.'
    Out of nowhere, a couple appeared. They approached. Perdy pulled me in their direction. 'Hi ... did you just come from the tree ... the Square Kauri?'
    The lady answered with an English accent, one very familiar to me. A friend up the road in Tararu spoke in exactly the same variant. 'Yes ... the steps are steep but well built.'
    'But where's the track?'

    'Just past the bridge. It's well worth the short tramp,' she replied, looking at me like she doubted my ability to manage the steps. The birdsong is beautiful too.'
    We chatted for a few minutes, then after they left, we headed towards the hidden track. I had an immediate sense that we were entering another world. The trees and ferns enclosed us, dripping their moisture on exposed skin, dropping the temperature a few degrees and casting an eerie light on the narrow pathway. A distant Tui called to us, interrupted by a more raucous call from an unidentified source. A large drop found its way down the back of my neck causing me to shiver.
    We continued, Perdy leading the way, stopping every few seconds to sniff out unseen life-forms and to leave her 'special 'mark. About ten metres into the bush, the stairs appeared. They were well built, with metal stones filling the step-line, but a lack of handrails made for a somewhat precarious journey, given that  I was being pulled, released and pulled again by a Jack Russell that understood nothing of a steady pressure and a gentle walk.
     'Jeeze, how many steps are there?' I asked, after a few seconds. I turned around. Where was my mate? Wispy tendrils of mist swirled from the canopy of ferns framing the path. My mate appeared, camera in hand. He had been taking pictures of fungi. 'Go ahead ... I'm still feeling car sick, from your driving,' he said accusingly.
    I ignored the barb and continued up the next flight of steps, puffing and hoping that the tree was up ahead. We had seen it standing majestically in the bush, from the road, but the path wound its way in a manner that made me feel like it didn't want us to encroach on its special world. I took a few more steps. I seemed to be stopping every ten steps or so. 'Bugger ... I hate steps,' I muttered to the ferns. One slapped my face, punishing me for my trash-talk.
    Something unnerved me. The bords had gone silent. I heard a rustling sound. So did Prdy. She pulled to the left of the path. I yanked her back. 'I ain't chasing you, girl. You get lost here and I'll have more than the Doc officers pissed off.'
    I carried on, trying to ignore the growing feeling. Looking up, I noticed the patterns formed by the canopy. I heard a heavy flapping sound and a dark shadow passed overhead. Must be a Kereru, I thought, but a bloody big one, I took a few more steps. I was down to five at a time now, before taking a breath. Yet another steep section presented itself. 'Damn ... that tree better be worth it.'
    I looked back. I couldn't see my mate. I felt very alone. Jack Russells don't count. 'Just a bit further.'
    Perdy started barking as the shadow passed overhead. It let out a cry ... a  guttural visceral screech like nothing I had heard before. I considered turning back, to find my mate. I could just about hear him saying that we were in Jurassic Park. 'Nah ... we're nearly there.'
    The steps stopped and we reached a flat section of the boardwalk, this one with railings. A view openned up, revealing distant hills covered in bush, some towering above the tree-ferns and smaller trees. Perdy tried to speed up, dragging me forwards ... to a sight that suggested a past long gone. A square Kauri tree, huge, timeless. I stood, transfixed by a vision. History teaches us that human greed is the main ingredient in our story. Even Perdy knew that we were in a special place. We just stood looking, until my mate came, camera in hand and look of disbelief at the heavenly life-form at the end of the boardwalk.
    The sun broke through the mist and the birds sang again.


Who let the ducks out?!

Life in the 'small smoke' is not without excitement. When you add 'semi-retirement' to the mix, it should not be assumed that life follows a certain pathway, bereft of anything that absolutely challenges.
    Today started like most days ... the usual morning stuff, before taking the four-legged beast for her walk. I fed the Jack Russell, made sure the chooks had their feed and water and collected any early morning eggs because one of them seems to like eating one a day. I have yet to find out which one!
    After breakfast, I decided to process the rhubarb and apples I had left in the slow-cooker all night. My intention was to put the sloppy mix into little bags and freeze them. I had cooked them with home-grown Stevia, to avoid issues with too much sugar in my diet. As I was pouring the mix into the bags, my cell phone rang. The caller was my neighbour, one removed.
    "Neil ... one of the ducks is wandering around Robert Street."
    OK ... the near neighbour was out. "Bring some food," she said.
    I grabbed some Vogel's Bread and walked around to the street. There she was, standing looking at another house. My neighbour appeared with a net on a stick. 'Ah ... that should do it," I said.
    I threw some bread on the ground in the hope that ducky would stay still long enough for us to enclose her/him. Ducky poked at the bread and then discarded it. The bread was obviously way too healthy.
    "This is going to be a bit of a problem," I offered, as Ducky waddled off. We employed our very best rural skills, herding Ducky towards the driveway at the back of our houses. She seemed quite content to let us follow her. We had difficulty getting her to stop long enough to ensnare in the net. Each time one of us got close enough, Ducky employed a burst of wing-flapping speed. You see, she/he has had one wing clipped ... we thought. At least we had Ducky off the road, so there was little risk of 'duck-splatter!'
    My neighbour managed to get in front of Ducky and opened a gate at the back of Ducky's section. Surely, we had solved the problem. NOPE! Ducky took off. Yes ... she flew, above shoulder height and I fell over in a most undignified manner. I almost swore, but the presence of a nice lady, prevented any untoward utterences. Hell ... I thought them, though!
    I got up and we continued to herd Ducky towards the gate. We quickly learned that any fast move would work against our ultimate ain. I thought we mirrored the actions of a dog trial. We hardly moved, spread our arms and ... viola! ... Ducky waddled back into the yard.
    We followed her, where she joined her duck family and ate the food I chucked on the ground.
'These ducks may have had their wings clipped ... but when?" I asked. "If they can fly that high, then I'm a bit worried that they may fly to my yard. You know who is awaiting there ... a crazy rat-hunting, add in Ducks ... little hunter."
    Yes, Perdy is well aware of the ducks next door. She is ready to help, but the results may not be quite the one I or Ducky could live with ... or maybe she just wants to make friends!!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The 'bowl story.'

"I have seen much, heard more and I show a few chips. Life has taught me to be resilient, shown me much. Sure, I no longer look like the day I emerged from the kiln, back in the 1950's, in New Lynn. I was part of a gift, a member of a set ... my family.
I watched my new family grow. I observed their lives, as they grew. I saw their tears when sadness or anger ruled. I watched them laugh, play and yes, disagree with one another. 
Sometimes they took me on picnics or gatherings of other families. I saw a mountain, rivers, lakes and black-sand beaches. I heard laughter, as little ones hopped on one foot, then the other as the sand made it's sun-heated warmth just a little too much. I watched the children fall asleep, finally giving my human parents a break from the constant noises of youth.
I cried when I was taken from the green fields of Taranaki, away from my Maunga, the snow-capped perfect peak that is Taranaki/Egmont. I was bound for the city of my birth ... Auckland.
My life became no less hectic. The children grew and some moved away. Still, I was a crucible for the same old and tried foods: Mashed potatoes, puddings, fruit salad; nothing unusual ... just nourishing basic fare.
I travelled to Hastings, Hamilton and twice back to New Plymouth. Then, I was given to the fourth child. My brothers and sisters from the set had died, broken and discarded. I SURVIVED, with a little discolouration and a chip.
I became the focus of experimentation, new foods, weird and exotic: Spices, herbs and dinner parties. Wine stood by my side along with the laughter and tears of those around me. My new owner never left me for long in the cupboards. There was always something new to hold and give to new friends. I survived several moves.
Now ... I live in Thames. I live a quieter life. I am often licked by a hungry Jack Russell, who loves to clean me before I swim in the sink. Whilst other dishes in the cupboard crack and are discarded, my owner keeps me, chip and all. I am part of a smaller family. I shall not be cast away. I am Crown Lynn. My story goes on ... and on ...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Story Time. Believe it ... or NOT!

 A ‘dogs tail.’
   “Stop pulling, Perdy! Damn … I can’t see where we’re going.”
    Cheeky birdsong faded as we pushed deeper into the mine, a cloistered shaft full of faded dreams and songs sung by the dead and desperate. Maybe they were laughing at me, presuming that I too desired the wealth of times gone.
    I stumbled as my foot hit a rock, sitting dead-centre in the narrowing tunnel. ‘Bugger … that hurt!”
    Perdy looked at me, her eyes barely visible in the diminishing light. My torch held precariously in one hand, and the leash in the other, flickered, casting dancing shadows on the walls.
    I shuddered. Should I turn back? “Nothing broken, girl. Kinda creepy in here though.”
    Perdy’s tail was hiding between her hind-legs, a sure sign that she wasn’t happy. Her little face was transfixed on something just beyond the reach of the weak torch-light. She sat, refusing to move.
    “Come on … I want to get to the end. There’s nothing to be worried about.”
    Perdy started growling … that low ‘big-dog’ sound she employs when she’s made up her mind that I need to reconsider my plans. Then I felt it. A cloying smell, drifting from the interior of the tunnel … and an eerie half-light, dancing, reflecting off the quartz-studded walls.
    A large rock fell from the low roof of the tunnel, causing me to jump back. I banged my head on the wall. The odour intensified, while the light began to diminish. My heart almost synchronized with the flicker.
    Perdy made the decision to start pulling me … back towards the entrance. I followed, casting my eyes back. The birdsong was gone when we tumbled out of the tunnel.

    “How about a beach-walk, next time, girl! Maybe
the beach can tell us some stories, eh.”